Social scientists honored throughout MSU community

February 28, 2020 - Liz Schondelmayer

February was a notable month for the College of Social Science, as many of the college’s faculty and students received prestigious awards and acknowledgements. 

Excellence within the classroom

Social science faculty continued to demonstrate their commitment to their students’ education. Recognized for their efforts were graduate students in the department of History, Alyssa Lopez and Tara Reyelts, who were presented with Excellence in Teaching citations. Fellow historian Dr. John Aerni-Flessner earned one of five prestigious MSU Teacher-Scholar awards. Lastly, political scientist Dr. Erica Frantz was selected as the College’s Outstanding Teacher, and will be speaking at the May, 2020 Commencement ceremony.

Excellence advancing equality

Three social scientists were recognized by the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context for their work advancing women’s equality. Historian Dr. Nwando Achebe won the MSU Professional Achievement award; psychologist Dr. Rebecca Campbell won the MSU Culture of Empowerment Award; and graduate student Ms. Morgan PettyJohn in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies won one of two MSU Woman Student Leader of the Year awards. 

Excellence within the MSU community 

Historian Dr. Javier Pescador won the MSU award for Sustained Efforts Toward Excellence in Diversity, and psychologist Hi Fitzgerald won the Lifetime Achievement Award for Outreach and Engagement. 

Meanwhile, anthropologist Dr. Heather Howard has been named one of six Whiting Public Engagement Fellows nationally for 2020-2021, while the following three professors won the William J. Beal Outstanding Faculty Award, which recognizes outstanding total service to the University: Dr. Holly Brophy-Herb (Human Development and Family Studies), Dr. Jiquan Chen (Geography, Environment and Social Sciences) and Dr. Merry Morash (Criminal Justice).

Undergraduate excellence 

At the MSU Honors College Diversity Research Showcase, political science undergraduate Jasmine Jordan won first place in the oral presentation category. Erykah Benson, an Interdisciplinary Studies major, took third place in the oral presentation category. Finally, Wisdom Henry, who is studying Urban and Regional Planning, received first prize in the poster competition.

In addition, Jordan and Benson both won prizes for outstanding research papers in the Excellence in Diversity Recognition and Awards Program. All three students are in the Social Science Scholars Program and founders of the Bridge Scholars within the program. 

To learn more about how the students, staff and faculty of the College of Social Science are transforming the human experience, visit